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Suspect In Attack On Ukrainian Journalists Arrested

Ukrainian Interior Minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko (file photo)
Ukrainian Interior Minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko (file photo)
KYIV -- A man suspected of beating the journalists Olha Snitsarchuk and Vladyslav Sodel in Kyiv on May 18 has been arrested.

Lawmakers asked Interior Minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko to brief them on the incident.

Zakharchenko told parliament on May 21 that the suspect, Vadym Titushko, has been charged with hooliganism. The minister indicated that the authorities are looking for other suspects.

"I can personally assure Olha Yuriyevna [Snitsarchuk] that law enforcement will do everything in their power to restore your constitutional rights and will bring those responsible to justice," he said.

On May 18, a group of athletic men in tracksuits attacked demonstrators during the "Get Up, Ukraine!" opposition rally in Kyiv. Several activists were injured, including the two journalists.

Snitsarchuk, a correspondent for the Kyiv-based Channel Five television company, told RFE/RL that only her husband, a correspondent for the Russian "Kommersant" newspaper, Vladyslav Sodel, saved her from receiving an even more severe beating.

"I had everything filmed on my phone," she said. "They came and started to pour water on us and spit on us, everything was done with swearing. Eventually we were knocked to the ground. I was hit on the hand, the phone shattered into pieces. My husband covered me, but I was hit several times in the face and stomach."

Dozens of journalists protested in Kyiv on May 20, demanding that the attackers be brought to justice. Journalists, who helped to identify Titushko as one of the assailants say that he has been seen before at pro-government events.

Titushko placed a video on the Internet on May 20 saying that he had nothing to do with the beatings.

However, journalists published several pictures taken from the May 17 gathering where Titushko is seen attacking people.

PHOTO GALLERY: Journalists Attacked In Kyiv

Snitsarchuk maintained that police standing nearby did nothing to help her when she was attacked.

"Since the police simply stood by and observed everything, there was an impression that everything was done under their protection."

Opposition lawmakers demanded explanations regarding police reluctance to interfere with the beatings.

However, Zakharchenko told lawmakers that the police had acted professionally.

"I would like to emphasize that during such public events, where many citizens of opposing political views take part, the police in general have worked adequately, according to the powers granted by law," he said.

The Committee to Protect Journalists and Freedom House have condemned the attack and urged Ukrainian authorities to investigate the situation.
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